PAW Pekoe Acupuncture and Wellness Center, PLLC Washington, DC Sun, 19 Jul 2015 22:29:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rethinking RICE: A Better Way to Treat Sprains Thu, 16 Jul 2015 21:43:39 +0000 Have you ever a big old nasty sprained ankle? Have you ever limped into the doctor’s office for treatment? Have you ever heard the acronym RICE? We are willing to bet that you have.

RICE is considered the go-to treatment for sprained ankles and various other body parts. Here’s what it means:

Rest: Rest the sprain by keeping off of it. Don’t put weight on it. Lay around on the couch if you can.

Ice: Ice it down to keep the swelling down. Keep the ice directly off the skin, though, and only do it for about 20 minutes at a time, because you might get frostbite.

Compression: Wrap it up! Get a pressure bandage on it!

Elevation: Prop your foot above the waist if you are sitting, or above the head if you are lying down. This slows the blood flow to the affected area.

Get it? Lie down! Wrap it up! Dump ice on it! Stick your leg in the air! And wait! And maybe the doctor will give you some anti-inflammatory medicine if you’re lucky. So the end result of all this is that it’s supposed to cause the swelling and inflammation in your ankle to go away quicker, and if that happens, that means that your ankle will have totally healed, because the swelling is the key sign that your ankle is sprained, right?

Actually, no. We are not big fans of the RICE method of sprain healing, and if you’ll bear with us, we will be glad to tell you why.

Inflammation and Swelling Serve a Purpose

When you sprain your ankle, that swelling that occurs is not merely decorative in nature. It’s actually serving a pretty important function. Swelling is increased blood flow to an injured area, it also causes a sort of barrier to keep stuff around the affected area, like a dam. Blood has this wonderful tendency to go and congregate where it is most needed. And it is definitely needed in an injury. So why on earth would you want the swelling to go down when it’s needed to help heal?

And why would you want anti-inflammatory drugs when inflammation helps the healing process work quicker? See this article on NSAIDS.

Ice, compression, and elevation all slow down the blood flow to a sprained ankle. And while you might be thinking that rest is the one thing here that works, but that isn’t effective either. Resting does nothing to help you rehabilitate your injury or get its strength back.

In other words, RICE actually gets in the way of allowing the body to heal sprains.

By the way, we aren’t just pulling this out of thin air. There has been quite a bit of dispute in medical rehabilitation circles recently about whether RICE is effective, or whether it’s the exact opposite of effective. And interestingly enough, one person doing a lot of the disputing is the guy who actually came up with the RICE acronym back in 1978. Dr. Gabe Mirkin wrote a book called Sports Medicine Book that’s still in use today, and at the time, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation seemed to be the obvious way of doing things.

But thinking can change in medicine, and so can evidence. Dr. Mirkin is now of the opinion that isn’t the way to go about it. In an article on his website, Dr. Mirkin cites several studies that contradict his earlier recommendations, including the following:

  • “The National Athletics Trainers Association found that ice was an over-simplified method and NOT effective at speeding up the healing process for a sprained ankle…It also recommends that you skip compression, which had no real impact on recovery….the study found that exercise helped to maintain blood flow and flexibility to the injured ankle, both of which are proven to speed up recovery.”
  • The Journal of Athletic Training published a study that found “when muscle tissues cool from icing the skin, blood vessels constrict and shut off the blood flow that brings in healing cells…After the ice is removed, the blood may then return, but the blood vessels may not open for many hours after the ice application…this research team found that this can cause the tissue to die due to lack of blood flow. It can also lead to temporary or permanent nerve damage and disability in the individual or athlete.
  • The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that “tissue that is damaged through trauma or vigorous exercise requires inflammation…When muscles and other tissues are damaged, your body sends inflammatory cells to the damaged tissue to promote healing.”

The point of all this is that conventional wisdom no longer seems so conventional. So what do you do for a sprained ankle, and how can Pekoe help you with this?

The first step is to let the swelling and inflammation happen. Yes, it’s painful, and yes it looks ugly, but this is part of the healing process. Its okay to use ice shortly after the injury, as ice can help numb pain, but only use it for a short period of time (no more than twenty minutes.) Do not sit around with a bag of ice on your ankle all day. That won’t do you any good, and could actually hurt you. Your doctor will probably recommend you do some light movement to help with strength and rehabilitation, and you should definitely do what he says.

Second, come see us. We can use acupuncture treatment to increase blood flow and help with inflammation (which is actually good for you and promotes healing.) We can also help move the process along with Chinese herbs and massage treatments.

We really hope that you don’t sprain your ankle. It hurts and it’s inconvenient. But we want you to heal as quickly as possible, and it looks like RICE isn’t the way to go about it.

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Q&A with Liana Brooks-Rubin, L.AC., M.AC., RYT-500 Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:57:33 +0000 Q: Do you just do acupuncture at Pekoe, or do you have other specialties?

I do acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and private yoga therapy.

So you pretty much run the whole gamut of services at Pekoe. Almost everything they offer, you do.

I do a lot of it, but I mainly focus on acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and those two categories are very much in lockstep. I have about 90% of my patients using herbs. I don’t typically do separate groups for acupuncture or Chinese herbs, because what normally happens is that someone will come and see me for acupuncture, and once we get to a point where there’s progress, Chinese herbs will usually help things along. And I don’t think I’m unique in that. Herbs and acupuncture are the two pillars of Chinese medicine. They usually go together.

How did you get started in acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

My first career was as a diplomat/humanitarian at the State Department. I traveled to a lot of war zones and difficult places, and I started to develop insomnia and anxiety, and various other PTSD-like symptoms. I started practicing yoga, and that helped tremendously, and then a friend recommended acupuncture, and that helped even more.  So I got my interest in acupuncture through my own symptoms, and through the example of what acupuncture did for me personally. And as I was progressing through my career at the State Department, I was working in the Refugees Bureau, and it was humanitarian work that I cared about greatly, but I wanted to switch to something where I could help people directly.

The idea being that the Refugees Bureau was important, but it was policy, and there were a lot of things regarding outcomes that were out of your control.

Right. And at the time I was fascinated with Chinese medicine, and I was reading books on Chinese herbs and Ayurveda while I was becoming a yoga teacher, and I was talking to my friends in acupuncture, and they all said “Just make the leap. Just do it.” And that seemed crazy to me, because I was already a manager at State. But they correctly pointed out that I was miserable, so I quit my job and went back to school, and that was that.

How long ago was this?

That was about five years ago. And honestly, it’s great that I’m practicing in Washington, DC, because I have a great understanding of what many of them are going through.

You come from the same peer group.

Yes. I get it. I really do. I understand the pressure and the need for perfection and the frustration of things not turning out the way you hoped for reasons that are completely beyond your control. So I feel that I can both provide them with relief and also show them other possibilities. Bear in mind, I’m not saying that they should all quit their jobs and do something else, but I can at least offer perspectives on how to make choices that don’t make you ill.

When you were going through your PTSD symptoms, did it ever occur to you to try antidepressants or any other pharmaceutical treatments?

I really didn’t want to go down that route. I thought to myself, “If it gets to be really then I’ll try the chemical route,” but in a really short period of time with the yoga and acupuncture, I started feeling better, so I didn’t have to. Believe me, I did talk therapy, and there were a lot of suggestions that I start with the pharmaceuticals, but I was resistant. I got acupuncture once a week, plus I was having massages and doing yoga every day, and meditation in between all of those things. And it’s not as if the bad stuff just never comes up, but the acupuncture and the yoga and the massages helped keep it from taking over my life.

Where did you go to school for acupuncture?

I went to Maryland University of Integrative Health, which was the first accredited acupuncture school in the country. My main reason for going there was that I was already settled and married with kids, and my husband’s job was here, so I didn’t even think about other options. It’s a pretty rigorous 4-year program with acupuncture and herbs, and a lot of clinical requirements. Going there was an easy decision. Honestly, if I were younger and single and the world were my oyster, I would have considered somewhere else, but this worked out perfectly.

How did you end up at Pekoe?

When I was first teaching yoga, I was at a studio with a naturopathic doctor, and she had an office in a corner of the studio, and we stayed in touch over the years. I was practicing in Maryland for a while, but we were moving from Maryland into DC, and it made sense to try to move my practice as well, also because in DC there are fewer acupuncturists per capita. So I contacted my doctor friend, and she recommended me to Nicole and Dalila. I came here, and I loved the space and I loved the neighborhood, and it felt like I was right where I needed to be. It was a done deal. A lot of studios are located in generic office buildings around Farragut.

Sure. It feels like you’re going to get audited.

Right. But with Pekoe I walk in and I think “I’m at work. I love it here.” It’s such a different feeling. The environment here is a lot better, and people can feel it the second they walk in the door. It feels home-like, but also spa-like. It’s not too home-like, where it feels like you are sitting in someone’s living room, but it’s also not sterile or professional to the point of being completely impersonal.

Are you from the DC area originally?

I spent half my childhood in Massachusetts, and the other half in Tuscon, Arizona. Then I lived overseas for several years while I was in the State Department. But I’ve lived here since 1999.

Was it a bit of a culture shock between Massachusetts and Tucson and overseas and then here?

Tucson is a very special place, but it’s also very insular. When I came back to the East Coast, I was a bit shocked, because people didn’t always make eye contact, there wasn’t the same amount of warmth. And I remember thinking that I was going to have a hard time living in this part of the country. But then I acclimated to it, and I fell in love with DC. It’s a diverse city, and there’s a huge variety of occupations and level of expertise here. In a place like Tucson, everyone is a healer and everyone has their shingle out, so I like surveying this community and feeling like I’m doing something unique.

Do you still keep your head in the policy game a little bit?

Well, for many years after I resigned, and even when I was in school and hadn’t started practicing full time, I still did contracting work. I haven’t done that for three or four years now, but as a result of staying connected I’m still friends with a lot of my former colleagues. So I pay attention from the sidelines, but I can’t say I’m still involved. I’ll see what’s happening, and then I’ll roll my eyes and say “well, nothings really changed.” That magic wand hasn’t been found yet.

What do you like about practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

No matter what the case involves, no matter what someone is coming in for, whether it’s a tight shoulder or knee pain or a complex endocrine disorder, I never look at one symptom and just address that. I try to help them understand how the lifestyle choices that they make affect them and determine what’s manifesting physically. And in most cases, I find that if I work with them for quite a while they reach that conclusion on their own, but I’m really keen on helping people understand their agency in healing, and helping them empower themselves. I like it when my patients feel like they can come to me as much as they need to, but they don’t feel like they are dependent on the needles and the herbs, because ultimately there’s not much of a difference between that mindset and a doctor just refilling the same prescription over and over again.

Is there any kind of case that you’ve had where you’ve seen remarkable transformation due to your treatment over a period of time?

Oh, there are a lot. I work with a lot of fertility patients. A lot of them have cycles that aren’t regular, because many of them have been on birth control pills for years, and they don’t get their periods back, or they developed ovarian cysts. So there have been some occasions where a woman hasn’t had her period in a year, and then she starts menstruating after being on Chinese herbs for a month. Or there are cases where a woman has been trying to conceive and has been unsuccessful, and I’ve been able to help her through it. And then there are cases where I have a patient with a chronic disease, and it’s very gratifying to help them get through that. I have one woman with ALS, and she’s come in every week for the past year, and I’m helping to alleviate a lot of those symptoms, and doing everything that I can to slow down the progression of the disease, and the progression of the disease is remarkably slow. You can’t stop ALS in its tracks, but we’ve been able to really slow it down.

So you are finding that helping people specifically is better than helping in the abstract?

Sure. I’d go write these memos and go brief Congress, and maybe something would happen, but there were often so many other factors at play that had nothing to do with what I was doing, and with this I can see the tangible benefits of my actions reflected in the patients that I see.

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Remodeling! Construction! We’re Going to Look Amazing! Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:52:28 +0000 It’s been a little over two years (7/17/13!) since we moved here to Shaw from New York Avenue, and it was hands-down the best decision we ever made to move here. We are in a great neighborhood, we have an awesome location on 9th Street, and we have great facilities in which to practice.

We also made a few needed improvements, like Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades, which allows our disabled clientele to easily get in and out of our offices, and even get up and down the stairs to our lower level treatment rooms. This week, we’re shutting our doors for five days to renovate and will be back open on Tuesday, July 28th!

We got the funding for these through Shaw Main Streets, which is a private group working to revitalize Shaw, and Great Streets, which is a DC government group working to revitalize DC in general. We applied for (and received!!!) small business improvement grants, which allowed us to upgrade our facilities and purchase needed equipment. We were smart about how we spent the money, so we had enough left over to schedule some more improvements this summer. (By the way, when you get grants like these, the money has to go to things that improve either the function or the look of your business, so if you get one, you can’t go spending it on keg parties.)

Here’s what we have in the pipeline:

  • Soundproofing: As most of you who have been here already know, a quiet, relaxed setting is crucial to effective treatment. We try as hard as we can to be as quite as possible in the waiting room and when we are walking Exterior Before_2around the Pekoe premises, but it isn’t always easy or possible to maintain that level of silence, especially with stompy upstairs neighbors. Soundproofing will allow us to greet clients and conduct business without disturbing your acupuncture or massage.
  • Weatherproofing: The Pekoe offices are great, but we are certainly in an old building. We realized that over the winter. Shoring up our vents and windows will keep us warm, and also save us (and ultimately you) money on our heating bills.
  • Exterior Painting: This is not complicated. We need a new coat of paint.
  • Bathroom Remodeling: We have two bathrooms, and they are both great, but they could be better.
  • Refinishing the Floor: It’s not like our floor is messed up or anything, but we want to make it shine.
  • New Sign: Now THIS we are really excited about. Just wait until you see it.

The upshot of all of this is that we will have to shut down operations for a VERY brief period of time. We’ll be closed and taking treatments already scheduled at other locations. (YAY, helpful neighbors!) We hope this won’t be too much of an inconvenience for any of you, but believe me, the wait will be worth it.


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Liana is Doing a Triathlon to Help Support ALS Research!!! Mon, 06 Jul 2015 02:24:20 +0000 A few months ago, I agreed to participate in a personal challenge to raise money for the Blazeman Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing ALS research.  I did so solely because of one inspiring person, Andrea Peet, who has changed the way I walk in the world. Now she is moving me to do more than just walk, and I need your support.

I met Andrea just before she was diagnosed with ALS at age 33, less than one year after completing five triathlons, including a Half Ironman.  Amazingly, even given her compromised mobility and after the emotional toll of receiving a life-altering diagnosis, Andrea completed a sprint triathlon in October and was greeted at the finish line by almost 100 people.  These were not just friends or family – but other competitors who had gotten wind of her participation and decided to have an impromptu party to celebrate her grit and awesome spirit.

Following this feat, she immediately set to work, raising awareness about the disease and fundraising to support much-needed research.  Dozens of inspired friends, family members, and friends-of-friends accepted Andrea’s challenge to sign up for any race (or series of races) that scared/inspired them and, in the process, raise money for the Blazeman Foundation, named after Jon “Blazeman” Blais who completed an Ironman Triathlon five months after his ALS diagnosis, also at age 33.

Andrea’s physical accomplishments are indeed impressive, as is her dedication to raising money and awareness about the (rather pathetic) state of ALS research through meetings and lobbying on Capitol Hill, numerous public speaking events, and outreach.  (For more about policy issues regarding ALS, please check out this blog post).

None of these hold a candle, though, to Andrea’s spirit, one of the brightest you’ll ever encounter.  I mean it.  She is not in denial about her disease, and it is a gross understatement to say that it is a challenge for her to live in a body that has changed so much, so quickly.  Yet, like a few other luminous people I’ve had the privilege of knowing, she lives in the present and is filled with gratitude for the life she has.  This spirit, this gratitude, this courage, this spunk is why I consider Andrea’s presence in my life a tremendous gift and why I HAD TO accept her challenge.

So, I am doing the Savageman Olympic distance triathlon on September 19th in Deep Creek, MD.

I won’t get into why it scares me, but trust me when I say that it does.  The name alone sends chills up my spine.  I will be riding Andrea’s former race bike.  I figure that alone will give me some kind of savage, womanly super-power.  I’m counting on it!

Thank you for reading to the end.  I am aiming to raise at least $1,500 by September 19th.  Please click on this link to donate any amount toward my efforts:

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Hey! We Know a Little About the Vagus Nerve, Too! Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:34:50 +0000 Do you know what the Vagus nerve is? Probably not, and that’s ok.

It’s the longest cranial nerve in the body, traveling down from the brain stem into the abdomen. It handles a ton of those involuntary functions that your body needs to do without thinking about. (Breathing, your heart beating, digesting food, etc.) It’s incredibly important, and touches pretty much every major system in your body.

So of course modern medicine is doing its best to monkey around with it.

There was an article in Wired recently that detailed (in a pretty jabbering nerdy manner) all of the plans that are being put in place and on their way to being approved by the FDA, including:

  • Various Implants that trigger electrical signals to the Vagus nerve, which in one case might help with epilepsy, and in another might help with…um…depression. I mean, we know it isn’t actually shock treatment, but are they or are they not zapping people with electricity to help with perceived mental illness?
  • More implants that apparently block the impulse to eat, which could help people suffering from obesity! Diet and exercise are so stone aged!
  • Treating headaches, not with implants but with electrical stimulation of the Vagus nerve! Again with the electricity!

Look, far be it from us to stand in the way of modern medicine. We’re big fans. But we know what the Vagus nerve is too. It’s actually a big part of how we treat our clients. We can treat depression and headaches, and we can do it without using surgical implants or electric shocks. We can help with obesity, too.

We would urge you to consider coming to us if you are having problems that you can’t get sorted. Give our acupuncture treatment a try, or come talk to our functional medicine specialists. You’d be amazed at what can be handled without the use of devices or invasive surgeries.

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Take the Pekoe Water Challenge! Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:25:12 +0000 Beautiful curly girl drinking water from a glass

Hot out there, huh? We’re willing to bet a few of you forgot what DC summers were like during the winter. Heat, yes, but also that glorious, prototype East Coast humidity. You can see the haze hanging over the Potomac, and you can feel the sweat pool in the small of your back, and you think to yourself “Man, these August days are really something!” Then you remember that it’s only June, and you burst into tears.

Don’t worry. It does get better, and it normally doesn’t stay this way for all of June. Believe it or not, summer weather has a bit of tendency to fluctuate. It’s just that when we get one of those five or ten day stretches of heat, the humidity makes it seem intolerable.

So, listen. It’s pretty easy to forget to handle a pretty crucial part of taking care of yourself when you are distracted from the heat and humidity, but please remember to stay hydrated. “Well, that’s ridiculous,” you are probably thinking. “I’m covered in sweat and really thirsty. Of course I’m going to stay hydrated.” But see, since you are covered in sweat and really thirsty, you are already dehydrated, and probably have been for a while.

A common misconception is that being dry-mouthed is the starting point of dehydration. It isn’t. It’s the sadly belated point where your body lets you know that you need some water. And you might not realize this, but your body needs quite a lot of it.

How much exactly? The commonly accepted amount is 64 ounces per day for a body to run efficiently, and if you remember your multiplication tables, means that you should drink 8 8 ounce classes per day. Now, nobody is expecting you to drink that all at once. We would recommend carrying one of those fancy, new-fangled water bottles, sipping periodically, and refilling it when needed.

So why should you do that? Why carry around a bucket of water? What happens if you don’t? Lots of bad stuff.

Lack of Energy: Tired all the time despite sleeping 8 hours or more a night? It might have something to do with your body having to expend more energy for basic tasks because it doesn’t have the materials that it needs. Like water.

Dry Skin: Hey, Flakey McAshington, has it occurred to you that you might not have to spend that much money on lotion every week? Seriously. If you drink enough water you’ll find that your skin will rebound a lot faster than it used to.

Headaches: There are lots of different causes of headaches. But they happen a lot easier if your body is dehydrated.

Constipation: We’ll avoid a pithy remark here. Just drink water, ok?

Do your friends at Pekoe a favor: For one week, try actually drinking 8 glasses of water every day. And we mean WATER, not sports drinks, or Red Bull, or juice. We mean just plain water. Just try it. See what happens. We guarantee you that your skin will look better, you will have more energy, and you will be able to concentrate better at work or school. It works! It really does! And with summer here your body needs it more than ever. Here’s some tips to make water interesting and delicious!!

Hydration pro tip #1: Drink room temperature or warm drinks instead of ice cold. You shouldn’t be using a lot of ice in your beverages anyway, your body takes a lot of energy to warm it up before digestion, which increases your body temp! If you’re ingesting warmer drinks, your body can easily acclimate to the heat.


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Help Our Friend With Love Triangle Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:23:23 +0000 Cancer is just about the worst thing in the world. We can say that with confidence. It’s an insidious, creeping, disease that kills people. It’s painful, and treatment is expensive, especially here in the States.

We are big fans of Obamacare. We really are. It made it a lot easier for people to get insurance, and it stopped a lot of the pretty horrible abuses that insurance companies were getting away with for years. You know, things like lifetime limits that could be reached after two days in the emergency room, or insurance that was actually just a coupon, or insurance that could be cancelled for insignificant reasons right when you needed it. So while it’s great our insurance system is better, it still isn’t perfect.

A lot of people are choosing high deductible insurance, meaning that they’ll still owe thousands of dollars if they get injured or sick. And your insurance might cover the treatment, but it won’t cover your bills or rent or mortgage, and going through treatment for cancer is not the sort of thing that you can do at work.

So you shouldn’t be surprised if you see a Go Fund Me campaign or two regarding medical bills. Obamacare is great, but it doesn’t fix anything. Sometimes people need help, financial and otherwise.

We recently found out that a very dear friend of ours had been diagnosed with cancer. In true keeping with her personality, she didn’t want to make a big production out of it. We were totally willing to respect her privacy, and we still are. But we were not at all willing to let her go bankrupt while she went through treatment, so we participated in a fundraising event.

Three different Clubs held events over three days this weekend. On Friday night it was at Flash, on Saturday night it was at U Street Music Hall, and on Sunday it was at the 18th Street Lounge. An amazing time was had by all, and a lot of money was raised to help our friend.

We want to encourage people to attend these venues that gave so generously of their time and space. And we also want to encourage people to continue to donate to help our friend with her expenses.

Here is the link to her fundraising page. Please help. We love her a lot.

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Meet Your Pekoe Staff: Q&A with Arlene Manier Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:11:59 +0000 Explain to me what reflexology is.

It’s the idea that our organs inside and our extremities outside can be manipulated and healed through zones in your feet, hands, and ears. Personally, I’ve been focusing on the feet, because the feet aren’t always respected, but we’re totally dependent on them. Without our feet we have no mobility, and our security is diminished, and aside from that our feet can be the prime indicators when our bodies are telling us that something is wrong. For instance, I once treated a guitarist, and she was experiencing shoulder stiffness. Ordinarily, you would think that shoulder pain is treated with a massage around the shoulders, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but there are also other ways to go about it. So I focused on her feet with both a foot bath and some treatment, and her feet let me know what was going on with the rest of her body. Her toes were really stiff and stuck together, to the point where I couldn’t even get a finger in between them. So with reflexology, If you look at your foot, the transverse zones of the toes are your eyes and ears and nose, and everything dealing with your sinuses, and from the middle to the ball of your feet involve your chest and your heart and lungs, and so on and so on. Each part of your foot directly affects a specific part of your body. So once I work all the zones, I’m able to completely reset your body. When the guitarist left my chair, she had no shoulder pain. It was like she was a completely different person. She had absolute relief.

Is it just through the feet?

No, you can also treat through the ears. If you look at your ears, you can see the outline of an upside down baby. The head is near the lobes and the feet are near the top of your ears, and with reflexology through the ears you use the the same principal of zones. Each part of your ear has a corresponding body part that benefits when you treat it.

What do reflexology treatments do for your patients?

It helps with insomnia, depression, pain, energy loss, and all sorts of other things.

How does it work?

Reflexologists do bodywork in a specific circular motion, and this replicates the pattern of the movement of your cells and the DNA in your blood cells. You can feel the effects pretty quickly. Most of my clients go into a sleepy state shortly after I get my hands on them.

Do you knock people out?

Sometimes, yeah. Actually, the ultimate compliment to me is when I hear snoring. But once you get out of treatment you feel positive and refreshed.

How did you get started? What piqued your interest in this?

This is an old calling. I was born in the Philippines, and I came here when I was 4.  In my mom’s family, everyone touched one another. There was a lot of rubbing of feet and backs and shoulders. So when I was a kid it was kind of forced on me. My mom worked at a cake factory, and was on her feet 12 hours a day pouring batter, and she’d come home aching. And she’d ask me to rub her feet. So ever since I can remember, right up until the point where I ran off and joined the Marine Corps, she always made me rub her feet, and everything in between, really. At the time I resented it somewhat, but looking back on it, that really helped me learn about muscles. Not just random rubbing, but how to really feel what was right and what was wrong in a muscle group. Anyway, I joined the Marine Corps, served, and after that I was a legal secretary, which my time in the Marine Corps made me perfectly suited to do.

Sure. There’s procedure, and there’s things that you do every time….

Right. There’s a right way to do it and that’s how you do it every time. In that way the Marines and being a legal secretary were pretty similar. But after awhile, things started to get pretty cut-throat. A lot of firms were cutting benefits, and rolling sick leave into vacation leave, assigning more attorneys to fewer secretaries, and doing a lot of things that felt shady to me. That sort of thing really makes employees feel under-valued, especially when they’ve been working for you for a long time. So at one point I was doing the work for 6 attorneys, and at that point I had been working as a legal secretary for 16 years, and I had decided that enough was enough, and I stopped.

So how did you get to Pekoe?

Well, I knew Nicole (Mires, owner of Pekoe) through mutual friends, and a mutual friend of ours got tired of seeing me mope around, and my friend asked Nicole if she would just get me in there to answer the phones, just to get me out of the apartment. The thinking was, “She was a secretary at multiple law firms, she can certainly handle answering phones.” So after the high pressure life of D.C. law firms, I came into this wonderful place of light and peace and love, and I just instantly felt better about everything. And Nicole and Jeff and Dalila and everybody were all so supportive.

And you moved from phones to footbaths.

Right, well, Pekoe was offering them, but only a few days a week, and people were always getting moved around. And after a while, Nicole trusted me enough to learn how to run the footbaths, which made sense, because I was there answering the phones anyway. And I started to make the footbaths an event, you know? And they are! It feels like you are on the beach, with the smell, and the salt water. And people get their feet wrapped, they get rubbed, and they get pampered. So those were going really well, and Nicole saw that I was just naturally good at working with feet, which, again, I got from years of helping my Mom out when she got back from work. So eventually she thought it would be a good idea for me to take a look at reflexology. And at that point I had an epiphany. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t have been running away from that sort of thing the whole time, but to be fair, it’s hard to get excited about something that your mother forces you to do when you are a kid. But it turns out that really helped and gave me a great platform to build on. I had about 15 years of experience in rubbing feet already, and now I had an opportunity to hone that experience, and I started to love it.

How long does the footbath or reflexology treatment take?

I can have you down there for a while! But it’s recommended that the foot bath takes about 15 to 30 minutes. But I revamped the whole treatment. It’s no longer as clinical as it used to be. It’s half spa, but it’s definitely a treatment. It’s not like you are getting a physical at the clinic. I put heat packs on your shoulders and back to aid in detoxing, I use aromatherapy, I do the temples and the ear reflexology. But with reflexology alone, it takes me about an hour to get all the way through the zones.

How did you end up in DC?

Well, I grew up in the South Side of Chicago, near Cabrini Green and all that. And it wasn’t the nicest of neighborhoods. My parents wouldn’t let me leave the back yard when I was a kid. I thought I really needed discipline, because I was thinking that if I stayed in Chicago, that city was going to kill me. So my Dad was in the Navy, and there was an aspect of me wanting to do him one better, so I joined the Marine Corps.

Wow. Where did you do boot camp?

Parris Island. That was some culture shock, I can tell you right now. But during my service some people I was serving with were going to go up to DC and do the Marine Corps Marathon, so I decided to go with them and volunteer. I was on the side giving people water and everything. But I fell in love with this city instantly. It had its own unique feel and flavor, and everybody here was really doing something and committed to what they were doing, and even the Redskins were winning, and I thought that this was just the place to be. So once I got out of the Marine Corps, I moved to DC. And after a bit, I had an apartment, and my car was paid for, and I had a daughter, and I was doing really well here, and honestly, I don’t think I would have been able to do all that in Chicago. It’s been a beautiful progression to get here.

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We Support the Pride Parade. You Should Too. Sat, 13 Jun 2015 17:36:36 +0000 This month marks the Pride Parade in DC and a lot of other cities, both major and minor, and we here at Pekoe happen to be big fans of both the parade and the sentiment.

The Pride Parade happens in June for a very good reason. Back in June of 1969, a bar called the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan was raided by the police. It was raided for three reasons. First, it didn’t have a liquor license. Second, it was a bar frequented by gay men for the purpose of dancing. And third, the guy who was managing the place was behind in the bribes that he was paying to the police so the police wouldn’t raid the place for being both an unlicensed liquor establishment and a gay bar, both of which were illegal at the time.

It’s easy to forget that homosexuality used to be illegal. It’s also easy to forget that in a lot of states people would be arrested and carry criminal records for the rest of their lives if they were caught engaging in homosexual acts. And we mean criminal. It was a felony in a lot of states. And a lot of states were actually devoting time and resources to try to catch homosexuals “in the act,” which says less about gay people and more about where we were as a country.

People would lose their jobs if they were found out to be gay. The government wouldn’t hire gay people for fear of blackmail, which was pretty rich considering that the police department in New York was blackmailing tons of gay bars. People had to live lives that were disguised and guarded, despite being consenting adults who were not hurting anybody.

The standard operating procedure when the police raided a gay bar was for everyone to meekly wander outside and get into the back of the police truck, then taken to the police station, then booked, and then to have their lives ruined. All for gathering with other consenting, like-minded people and having a few drinks.

But this time, the patrons involved did not go meekly. Some of them didn’t go at all. Some of them in fact rioted.

We aren’t big fans of rioting. There are a million different ways to get your point across without throwing trash cans and breaking windows. But in this case we’d like to think that we would have been right there with them.

Shortly after the riot, gay people began to organize and march. Part of it was to make a political point, and part of it was to show people that gays and lesbians were not freaks. They weren’t creepy lizard people looking to convert the innocent. They were, and still are, perfectly normal human beings who occupy positions in every strata of society. They are your friends, neighbors, and relatives.

It’s easy to become complacent considering the speed with which gay marriage has become the law of the land in so many states, and considering how in many places, open homophobia is met with scorn and embarrassment. But you have to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that beating up gay people was considered a sport in some circles. And there are also lots of places where discrimination against gays is considered “religious liberty.” Pride marches are not just a matter of ensuring that gays and lesbians have equal rights. It’s also a matter of making sure that they keep them. So if there’s a pride march in your city, support it, ok? Ok.


gay pride flag painted on a wall

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Help Pekoe Help Disabled Washingtonians Sun, 17 May 2015 03:30:57 +0000 It is difficult for the majority of us to imagine life in a wheelchair. Most of us probably think about things like navigating curbs or stairs, or not being able to play basketball, or dance, or turn on the faucet in the tub with our toes.

But there are thousands of other aspects to life in a wheelchair that don’t even occur to us. There are  things like getting in and out of bed using only your upper body, or cooking in a kitchen where the stove is above your head. There are things like pressure sores and muscular atrophy from not being able to move your legs.

And there are things like what happens to your body after spending the most of your time in a wheelchair. We all know that sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day isn’t great for your posture, your blood pressure, your energy level, or anything else. Imagine having to stay in a chair for 12 to 16 hours a day. Imagine having to use your arms and shoulders to move everywhere. Life in a wheelchair takes a toll, in every possible way.

Therapeutic massage does wonders to help with the physical strain of being in a wheelchair. It helps with pain relief in the upper limbs and the torso, and can even help prevent muscle strain from repetitive motion.

Pekoe massage therapist Jeff Kuykendall is working with the DC Center for Independent Living to provide free massage for people with disabilities. He will be donating the cost of half of his time, and is hoping that donations will make up the other half.

There are two ways that you can help. The first is to make an add-on donation when you book a massage or other treatment at Pekoe Wellness. The second is to make a donation by way of Jeff’s special Go Fund Me page that will help cover the costs to Jeff. Disabled people will pay nothing for treatment.

Pekoe has a ramp at the front door as well as a lift on the staircase that can get disabled people down to our extra treatment rooms. We’re proud to offer this service to the community, and we hope that you will help.

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